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Marcus Youssef

Marcus Youssef, a Montreal native, is an actor and playwright who lives in Vancouver, B.C. While he has written several plays, many of them have not been commercially published. He has also penned more than a dozen radio plays for the CBC.
Youssef is an associate artist with the NeWorld Theatre in Vancouver. In 2000 he completed a M.F.A. at the University of British Columbia.
Youssef’s ancestry is Middle Eastern (Egyptian father and Anglo-American mother).



Vancouver: Talonbooks, 2008.
PS8597 .O89 A78 2008

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

Inspired by the novel Adrift on the Nile by Egyptian Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz, Adrift is set against the backdrop of the US war on Iraq and a region burdened by the gorgon-head legacies of colonialism, corruption and violent dictatorship. It is about a group of people at the epicentre of conflict between the West’s ever-accelerating and utterly ahistorical imperial culture of commoditization and capital, and its doppelgänger: the tide of religious fundamentalism that is growing ever more powerful in its wake.


The Adventures of Ali & Ali and the Axes of Evil : A Divertimento for WarlordsAli

Co-authors: Guillermo Verdecchia and Camyar Chai.
Vancouver, B.C.: Talonbooks, 2005.
PS8597 .O89 A38 2005

Also published in Performing Back: Post-colonial Canadian Plays, ed. by Dalbir Singh. Toronto: Playwrights Canada Press, 2015.
PN56 .P555 P47 2015

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

In this elaborate agitprop theatrical collaboration, the internal contradictions and duplicitous double-speak of the “war on terror” are exposed as the propaganda vehicles for the neo-colonialism of the West that they are. “‘Ali Hakim” and “Ali Ababwa,” refugees from the imaginary country “Agraba,” attempt to seduce their audience into providing them with food, refuge, security, freedom and the material benefits of Western consumer society, failing miserably at every step.


Ali & Ali: The Deportation Hearings: A Play

Co-authors: Camyar Chai and Guillermo Verdecchia.
Vancouver, B.C.: Talonbooks, 2013.
PS8605 .H332 A55 2013

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

Following the election of U.S. president Barack Obama in 2008, collective optimism for a more tolerant, peaceful, and co-operative post- Bush world spreads to Canada – and to the backroom of Salim’s Falafel Shoppe in Toronto. There, Ali Hakim and Ali Ababwa, refugee entertainers from the fictitious, war-torn country of Agraba, are inspired to write a stage play in celebration of the new president’s message of “hope and change.” The premiere of their Yo Mama, Osbama! (or, How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Half-Black President) halts abruptly when an RCMP constable arrives at the theatre and arrests the pair for its financial ties to the Agrabanian People’s Front, an alleged “terrorist organization” on the Canadian government’s watch list.

Continuity becomes more apparent than change when Ali and Ali are swiftly put on trial. As the hapless playwrights try to defend themselves in the farcical deportation hearing that unfolds, racial and cultural stereotypes are invoked – and lampooned – as quickly as dubious evidence is presented. But, in the midst of the biting comedy, more serious questions are raised about the cost for some when we endeavour to protect the “freedoms” of others.


The In-Between: A Play

Vancouver: Talonbooks, 2022.
PS8647 .O97 I5 2022

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

Lily has always felt in-between. She looks Vietnamese but thinks of herself as white – her parents adopted her from an orphanage in Vietnam. Her parents both have good jobs, but her best friend Brit is always super broke. When Karim – a guy she’s liked for a long time – shows interest in her for the first time, Brit starts to hang out with some grade-twelves who wear T-shirts saying “white pride.” After Karim confronts Brit about her racism, a series of fear-induced misunderstandings lead to a lockdown, and Lily finds herself truly in-between, forced to make seemingly impossible choices about whose side she’s on, and which friend she’s going to believe. Set in a school facing the real-life challenges of immigration, income inequality, and fears of violence, The In-Between is a realistic, complex, and believable exploration of the conflicts students navigate in contemporary schools. Like Youssef’s international hit Jabber, seen by hundreds of thousands of young people across North America and Europe and winner of Berlin’s Ikarus Prize, The In-Between brings humour, sensitivity, and a deftly authentic ear to the adult-sized questions all young people must begin to confront as they enter their later teens.



Vancouver, B.C.: Talonbooks, 2015.
PS8597 .O89 J33 2015

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

Like many outgoing young women, Fatima feels rebellious against parents she sees as strict. It just so happens that she is Egyptian-born and wears a hijab. When anti-Muslim graffiti appears on the walls of her school, Fatima transfers to a new school. The guidance counsellor there, Mr. E., does his best to help Fatima fit in, but despite his advice she starts an unlikely friendship with Jorah, who has a reputation for anger issues. Maybe, just maybe, Fatima and Jorah start to, like, like each other …

High school, like no other social space, throws together people of all histories and backgrounds, and young people must decide what they believe in and how far they are willing to go to defend their beliefs. Inside a veritable pressure cooker, they negotiate cross-cultural respect and mutual understanding. Jabber does its part to challenge appearances – and the judgments people make based on those appearances.



A Line in the Sand

Co-author: Guillermo Verdecchia.
Burnaby, B.C.: Talonbooks, 1997.
PS8593 .E67 L56 1997

The play was produced in Vancouver at the New Play Centre in April 1995 and a revised version was presented in Toronto at the Tarragon Theatre in April 1996. The Talonbooks edition is based on the Tarragon production but it includes the text that was removed from the earlier production.

Also published in Canada and the Theatre of War. Vol. II. Contemporary Wars, ed. Donna Coates and Sherrill Grace. Toronto: Playwrights Canada Press, 2009.
PS8309 .W3 C35 2008 v.2

Publisher’s Synopsis

In Autumn 1990, during Operation Desert Shield, two young men, one a troubled Canadian soldier, the other a teenage Palestinian black-marketeer, meet in the scorched Qatari desert. Exploring the psychological and cultural roots of a war fought by Canada and dozens of other countries, this play imagines one story of inexplicable violence buried deep in the chaos of a devastating and brutal international conflict.

Awards and Honours

1997 Chalmers Award for Best New Play (See Past Recipients icon)

Drama (Staged conversation)

Winners and Losers

Co-author: James Long.
Vancouver, B.C.: Talonbooks, 2015.
PS8597 .O89 W56 2015

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

Two buddies, theatre artists and long-time friends Marcus and James, sit at a table and pass the time together playing a made-up game in which they name people, places, or things – Pamela Anderson, microwave ovens, their fathers, Goldman Sachs – and debate whether they are successful or not; in other words, whether they are winners or losers. In the words of the Globe and Mail, “As the gloves come off, the intensity increases. The guiding theory behind the game is that you can’t have two winners sitting next to each other; for there to be a winner, the men reason, there has to be a loser.”

Winners and Losers showcases the work of two giants of the Vancouver indie theatre scene. Their first collaborative work is a staged conversation that embraces the ruthless logic of capitalism, and tests its impact on our closest personal relationships as well as our most intimate experiences of self.

Selected Criticism and Interpretation

Tompkins, Joanne. “The Shape of a Life: Constructing “Self” and “Other” in Joan MacLeod’s The Shape of a Girl and Guillermo Verdecchia and Marcus Youssef’s A Line in the Sand.” In Theatre and AutoBiography: Writing and Performing Lives in Theory and Practice, edited by Sherrill Grace and Jerry Wasserman. Vancouver: TalonBooks, 2006, p. 124-136.
PN2039 .T52 2006


Marcus Youssef personal website

Playwrights Guild of Canada website

Publisher Talonbooks

Entry in the Canadian Theatre Encyclopedia